16 Jan

Frank L Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz, introduced some beautiful sayings into children’s literature. For example;

“No thief, however skilful, can rob one of Knowledge, and that is why Knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire”

But how do we get Knowledge? I used to think it could be taught, until I experienced Life and realised that some sacrifices are required.

Odin knew this well. He journeyed deep below the roots of the giant Ash Tree, Yggdrasil to a sacred stream guarded by a mysterious and deeply wise creature called Mimir.

Mimir was the keeper of ‘tradition’ – I suspect he was actually the guardian of Archetypes – Literally ‘ancient concepts’ …. or ‘inheritance’ if you will.

Odin made a sacrifice in order to drink from Mimir’s well and gain wisdom. He plucked out his own eye for a draught.

I was asked to design and make a desk for the husband of a client. The client was able to give me these insights:

I discovered that he does his cats, which like to perch near him when he is working, and he also likes to rub his stocking feet on a special, bobbly massage stool.

This gave me an idea – why not use a lumpy, burr from the side of an oak tree and incorporate it into the cross brace?

I chose an old burr from the side of an oak tree I thought it would make a tactile and aesthetic foot board for the scholar.

Here is the work in progress:

It looks like the wounded empty eye socket of Odin to me.

The top of the desk I made in the shape of a Star Trek badge. Live long and prosper! The top of the desk is where the researcher organises his thoughts and derives ‘meaning’.

What do I know of sacrifice?

In 1983 I was writing up my PhD thesis on a typewriter at a tiny wooden table in a flat in Moss Side, whilst trying to look after my baby daughter Polly. Her mum was forced to go back to work to pay the bills. It did not work, I could not concentrate, so Polly’s Nan offered to look after her for half the week in Doncaster.

The loss of Polly for three days from our lives was very terrible. Yet Polly thrived in the company of her Nan. It was the best thing for her, even though I felt like a terrible parent.

Why did I make this sacrifice – did I gain knowledge?

I had studied the ’empty socket’ that is the coxal organ of centipedes for my PhD.

A beautiful structure. With a described function based entirely on appearance (external and internal).

In other words totally wrong.

I did some experiments, and made a new testable hypothesis:

In so doing I sacrificed precious time with my baby daughter.

Was it worth it? The PhD has never earned its keep, except for now. Back then it was just a was just a ticket to misery.

Now, I would not trade a picosecond if my allotted time with Polly, her son, Joseph , or his Nain Clare.

Thank you Mimir, the keeper of the sacred wellspring of life, tradition giver of meaning.

3 Responses to “Mimir”

  1. Rachel Lane August 2, 2018 at 7:26 am #

    That is a beautiful story Henk! That’s been a wisdom hard won. The desk looks like it will become it’s own story! I love it!


  1. Meaning | Woodenhenk - December 8, 2019

    […] In the old stories Odin’s favourite was Muninn for she gave meaning to his thoughts and a powerful memory for people, places and sources of power. […]

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